With the colder winter weather upon us and the possibility of intermittent freezing temperatures, we want to plant annuals that will need minimal care during these cold snaps. Pansies are an excellent choice as they tolerate the cold temperatures and offer a burst of color in your winter garden. The scientific name for these delicate treasures is Violax Wittrockiana.
These plants look extremely delicate but actually they are fairly hardy in regards to cold temperatures. They are used in many different applications including window boxes, flowerbed borders, hanging baskets, strawberry jars and pots. Pansies can grow anywhere from 6 to 9 inches and have a spread of about 9 to 12 inches.
Pansies are available in many colors including white, yellow, gold, bronze, rose and combinations of the above listed colors. Pansies will grow in a variety of different soils but using a rich, dark planting medium like Miracle Gro will greatly enhance the plant quality. Your plants will do best in an area that gets some direct sunlight. If the plants are in too much shade, they will grow tall and spindly.
Although Pansies are fairly trouble free, there are some insects that you need to watch for. In our area, aphids can be the biggest problem along with snails. Aphids can be treated with Orthenex and snails can be treated with any brand of snail and slug control pellets. In conclusion, Pansies should not be planted in the same soil for more than three consecutive years.
Another very popular winter treat is an interesting looking plant called the Snapdragon. Snapdragons are one of nature's examples of splashing color and style. These colorful gems come in a wide assortment of colors and varieties and they only available in our area during the winter months. They are indeed a winter treat. The flowers have a soft scent and the plants themselves come in a variety of sizes from dwarf varieties to some that will grow as high as four feet. Since Snapdragons produce the most blooms during cool weather, right now is the best time to purchase and plant your colorful flowers.
Snapdragons are easy to grow and do well in partial shade or sun during the cooler months of January and February. Place your plants in an area of your yard that drains well and is not completely shaded. Be sure to use a high quality potting mix such as Miracle Gro so your plants can get a good start and also the plants will drain well. Using a good quality potting soil also has the advantage of promoting good drainage while retaining just enough moisture so your plants do not dry out as easily between watering. You should fertilize your plants on a regular basis, at least once every two weeks. Use a good quality water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Gro or Peters.
Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site www.hometowngarden.com.